“I called her El Destructo. She’d chew anything, absolutely anything. She’d attack the handle on the oven—anything she could chew she’d chew. And it cost me thousands of dollars. She’s probably the most expensive dog I’ve ever had in my life. Car interiors, beds, quilts, kitchen appliances. Yep. And a whole California king mattress. There wasn’t a piece that was bigger than 50 cents. But she’s really fun. She’s got a fun personality. She’s a character.”
“All of my dogs, they live in the house. They’ve never been overnight in a trailer, none of my five dogs. And they have all slept in our bed. [laughing] We hardly ever are away from them, ever. They’re just family, they’re just part of the family. I call this truck my $40,000 dog kennel because they live in the back seat. When I bought the truck I folded the back seats up and that’s it, they’ve never been folded back down. [laughing]”
“A retriever just lives for the retrieve. There’s nothing better than putting feathers in their mouth. I just want them coming back, you know? And so, if I walk past five but the two we shot come back I’m good with that, so I’ll always have a retriever, not versus a pointer. Nothing against pointers. I’ve hunted with a lot of them, too. I always just make sure I have a retriever to bring the birds back when I’m hunting with a pointer. [laughing]”
“I think success means getting the dog to end up working the way you want them to work. And you can either have them working with you and for you—or you can have them working against you. So, the whole key is you always start off by doing something fun. When you’re training, they need to know when it’s break time, so it’s fun because this is your time. Hey, whatever we’re doing, let’s make a lot of fun. So, you always start off with something fun, a little bit of work, fun, a little work, fun, a little work, fun. And you always put them away after doing something fun.
L“The dog gets to know you so well. He knows what he can get away with and he’s already three steps ahead of you. You put the leash in somebody else’s hands and the rulebook goes out the window, and they start paying attention. I have friends that say he won’t listen, he won’t do this, he won’t do that. I take the leash and all of the sudden their dog listens. They’re like, ‘You're a dog whisperer!’ I say: ‘No, your dog doesn’t know what he can get away with me. He knows how to manipulate you.’ [laughing]”
“I will never not have a dog. [laughing] That’s not an option. If I absolutely couldn’t have one for some reason, I know lots of people with dogs, so I might tag along—that’s my loophole. But it’s nowhere near as satisfying as seeing the rewards of the hard work that you’ve done. With Lux, well, I’m sure he would be a totally different dog if I wasn’t as hardcore as I am. [laughing] But I really am into it. That’s what I do two times a week. The whole fall is bird hunting. And when Lux starts really getting birds, his performance just goes up. He’s now trained to the point that he can do the 100-yard marking retrieve on a cripple; he did that multiple times.”
“She’s the most petted dog in Minnesota, I’ll tell you that. And, frankly, I think maybe she is the most famous black Lab in America. Yeah, I’ll never forget one time I went down to the SHOT Show; it was in New Orleans. And I’m walking across the street in the back end of the convention center, and a guy recognized me. A guy sitting security at the door says, ‘Hey, Raven.’ Not, ‘Hey, Ron’ or ‘Hey Ron and Raven!’ Just ‘Hey Raven!’ [laughing]”
“That’s something else. To have a dog with a bird in its mouth, right next to her nose, and still she stopped rock solid, pointing the rooster. You think about that. That’s just magnificent! That’s where I just think I’m amazed by the power of all pointing dogs. To have that innate instinct to just stop. The desire to break must be so intense, but they stop. That’s why a lot of times they’re shaking. [laughing] Even though they’re locked up rock solid, they quiver. And that to me is just magic.”